Monday, May 07, 2012

The Unconventional Tool - EtsyMetal Blog Carnival

A new month brings a new EtsyMetal Blog Carnival post.

The topic for the month of May is:

The Unconventional Tool

Do you use tools that you have made yourself? How about items that were not intended to be used by a metalsmith?
Tell us all about it and describe/show the results your special tools give in your creative process!

My very first metals instructor handed out several handmade tools he made for us the first night of our first class. That was nearly 20 years ago. I still have several of those tools but I really only use one regularly. It is my burnisher. The wooden handle has years of grub and metal dust embedded in it. But it is a workhorse. And every time I use it, I think of that instructor and how that first class changed the course of my life.

There are several other things that I employ on a regular basis that were probably never intended to be used by a metal artist. One of those is my beloved masking tape. And it can't be just any old masking tape. I have high standards and expect a lot from my tape!! I like the Scotch #2060 green painter's tape. It is just the right color of light green that allows my Sharpie marker drawings to show up crisp yet the tape won't leave a sticky residue when removed. I put it on my metal then draw a rough sketch with a sharp pencil of what I want to pierce then I trace over the pencil marks with a fine Sharpie. This gives me the best pattern to saw. And the tape protects the surface of the metal while doing the initial stages of finishing (i.e., filing edges, marking and drilling holes for bails, rivets, etc). I use that same tape to create a cushion when using my dapping blocks to create concave forms in the middle of my dogwood pendants. If there is no cushioning the edges of the block will mar the metal. And we can't have that!

For several years after my son was born I put my metal working tools away to spend time being a Mom. There just wasn't a workable way for me to be in the studio outside of my home and I wasn't comfortable bringing the chemicals, torches and such into a home studio when I had a young soul living in my house. However, I have never been real good at just sitting around so I started an online business selling scrapbooking supplies. This made it possible for me to work from home, raise my son and keep my hands in a creative realm. To make a long story short, I did this for about 5 or maybe 6 years and during that time I amassed a whole BUNCH of crafting supplies. And many of those crafting supplies work real well when creating art jewelry! One of my favorite uses for these alternative supplies is using rubber stamps and embossing or pigment inks when working with torch fired enamels. The ink works as a great binder for enamels and the stamps give endless design possibilities.

Sometimes just stepping out of the box frees my creative mind to new ideas and opportunities! Plus it gives me more reason to horde supplies ;)

Read more about unconventional tools and their uses from other EtsyMetal members:
Beth Cyr
Inbar Bareket
Theresa Kwong


missmarble said...

Do you find that the tape clogs your saw blade when doing piercing work?

Laney said...

missmarble- I have been using the green painter tape on my metal for over 20 years and have never had trouble with it gumming up my blade. In fact, that thought has never crossed my mind until now ;)

missmarble said...

I'm going to give it a try!mwe always have painters tape around. I usually glue paper to my metal, but the paper rubs off and the pattern sometimes smears. Tape + sharpie sounds like a way better solution!